Maintaining good oral health might seem basic to most of us. We brush our teeth three times a day and go to the dentist every few months. But as we grow older, this becomes a lot harder. Thus, providers of home health care in California remind us to take care of this for our elderly loved ones. Here is how to do it and keep them smiling.
Why Maintaining Oral Health Becomes Harder For Seniors
To better plan out how to help your senior relatives maintain their oral and dental health, you need to understand first why they are having a hard time doing so. There are various reasons why this can happen. By identifying which one relates to your elderly loved one’s condition, you can determine the best course of action here.
Teeth Wear And Tear
As we age, our teeth get weaker like any other bone in our body. And due to continuous use, these also have increased wear and tear. Certain eating habits like consuming a lot of hard or acidic foods can worsen the condition.
Because of that weakened state, teeth can easily crack and chip even when eating regular food. This also makes it harder for seniors to brush their teeth on their own. Wrong brushing techniques can end up creating more damage.
Another significant change during old age is that saliva production in the mouth also lessens. This can lead to seniors’ mouths drying out, which raises the risk of various oral health problems like gum diseases and tooth decay.
Dry mouth itself can also be uncomfortable for the elderly. And because of that, they might resort to various remedies to deal with the problem. But without proper guidance, some of these methods can end up doing worse.
Other Health Factors
Outside of the above, other factors can contribute to poor oral health for seniors. For instance, medical conditions like arthritis can make it harder for them to do daily dental routines. Meanwhile, mental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can make them forget to follow these routines altogether.
Overall lifestyle also significantly affects senior oral health. Smoking is one of the significant contributors to gum disease. It attacks the attachment of your teeth to the gums. Tobacco products can also directly affect how your gum tissues work. All of these can result in your teeth decaying and falling out faster than you might expect.
The Impact Of Poor Oral Health On Overall Wellbeing
Poor oral health can have far-reaching consequences for seniors. The most obvious of this is that it can disrupt their normal diet. For instance, toothaches can force them to eat less to avoid the pain. That can result in various nutritional problems that aggravate other illnesses.
Respiratory And Cardiovascular Infections
This might come as a surprise but oral health can lead to or worsen various respiratory ailments. If your elderly loved ones have decaying teeth or infected gums, they can potentially inhale bacteria from these. These then trigger new infections in the lungs, resulting in illnesses like pneumonia.
Those bacteria can also travel through your bloodstream, resulting in cardiovascular conditions. They can cling to and clog the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks. On the other hand, they can travel directly to the heart, resulting in infections.
Diabetes is a major health issue for seniors, affecting nearly 30% of people ages 65 and above. Poor oral hygiene can contribute to both the increased risk for the disease and its complications. In particular, blood sugar levels can be a lot harder to control when your loved one has gum disease.
On the other hand, diabetes can increase the risk and severity of periodontitis, a more severe form of gum infection. Together, the two can result in prolonged periods of abnormally high sugar levels, which triggers other complications.
Caring For Your Elderly Loved Ones’ Oral And Dental Health
The first thing to do to help your elderly loved ones maintain their oral health is to create a daily cleaning schedule for them. If they already had good tooth cleaning habits during their younger days, encourage your elderly loved ones to return to these. The goal is to have them brush at least twice a day.
Note that you need to pay special attention to the toothbrush and toothpaste your senior loved one uses. Since their teeth are weaker with age, you should get a brush with bristles of soft to medium hardness. You should also get toothpaste that has a good amount of fluoride in it. This helps strengthen their teeth.
Helping Your Elderly Loved One Brush
In some cases, your senior relatives might need some assistance brushing their teeth. For instance, they might have a hard time holding the brush due to arthritis. Depending on the severity of their condition, you will need to guide their hand for them to brush their teeth properly.
Start by positioning the brush so the bristles are between the gums and teeth and pointing towards the latter. Guide their hand to perform small circular motions to reach into all corners of the teeth. You might need to ask them to tilt their head slightly so that they can reach further in. don’t forget to brush their tongue thoroughly. After brushing, remind them to spit the toothpaste out but not rinse their teeth.
Caring For Dentures
Older people wearing partial or full dentures might also need help in caring for these. Brush these in the same frequency as you would with natural teeth. Note that you don’t use toothpaste here, as these can be too abrasive. Instead, make sure that your relative has ample stock of the right denture cleaning product. Afterward, you will need to soak them in a denture cleaning solution for at least four hours daily.
In some cases, the elderly adult might feel uneasy about not wearing their dentures for a prolonged period. Assure them that there is nothing to worry about. But you will need to have their dentures replaced as soon as possible. Reserve the deep cleaning during the night. You can even have the container of cleaning solution by their bed so that they can follow.
Getting Professional Dental Care
You also need to make sure that your elderly loved one gets regular dental checkups. This is fairly easy to follow through, as you can have it scheduled alongside their general checkups. If your loved one is under home health care in California, the provider will often be the one to handle that scheduling for you.
During these checkups, the dentist will be able to spot any signs of potential gum diseases. Have this treated immediately to avoid further complications. Additionally, the dentist will inspect dentures for chips or damage and have you referred to a specialist for replacement.
Help Your Elderly Loved One Smile With The Best Home Health Care In California
We at Amavi believe in providing holistic care for our wards. As such, we offer an extensive range of dental health care procedures for senior patients. Sign up with us today and let the best home health care in California help keep them smiling.